Posted on November 05, 2015

On 7 and 8 November, more than 150 healthcare professionals at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) will gather to celebrate the International Day of Medical Physics which aims to raise awareness on the role that medical physicists play in patient care. Delegates will also attend a workshop which reflects the international theme for this year, “Better Medical Physics = Better Cancer Care in Radiation Oncology.”

“On this day, we are honoring the work of more than 150 healthcare professionals including medical physicists, biomedical engineers, radiographers, oncologists, radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, technicians and radiation safety officers,” said Dr. Huda Al Naomi (pictured), Executive Director of HMC’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Department and Vice President of the Middle East Federation of Organizations of Medical Physics (MEFOMP).

The OHS Department, in collaboration with MEFOMP and the European Federation of Organizations of Medical Physics has organized the workshop in observance of the event, which was initiated by the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP). The IOMP has chosen the birthday of the famed physicist and chemist, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, on 7 November, as the international day in recognition of Curie’s pioneering research on radioactivity. Curie also helped draw attention to the harmful effects of radiation, particularly when she became ill due to prolonged exposure to radiation and radioactive materials.

Dr. Al Naomi explained: “More than half of medical physicists work as part of the healthcare team in radiotherapy and their contribution is crucial for radiation oncology. This highly skilled and trained healthcare workforce deals with some of the most complex equipment of our time and we want to focus the global attention to this extremely important contribution of medical physicists to healthcare.”

Medical physicists contribute to the safe and accurate use of radiation to achieve the best outcome of the prescribed medical procedure for either diagnosis or therapy. They assess radiation doses and associated risks to patients and personnel, especially for pregnant women and children. In addition, medical physicists play an important role in radiation protection education and training of healthcare professionals, and also participate in research and development to improve patient care.

Because of their complex and highly specialized work, medical physicists are required to obtain an advanced postgraduate degree and then undergo specialized clinical training in one or more medical physics disciplines, such as radiation oncology, diagnostic and interventional radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation protection.

OHS also regularly holds radiation safety courses for radiation workers across HMC and from other healthcare facilities. This is part of the workers’ licensing procedure and ensures they are fully qualified to handle radiation and radioactive materials. Last year, the OHS Department also introduced HMC’s Physicist of the Year Award to recognize the contribution of individuals who have made a significant mark in the science of radiation.

“Without a clinically qualified medical physicist, the implementation of medical radiation procedures can lead to the patient receiving an incorrect dose which can jeopardize the success of the medical treatment or the quality of diagnosis. The medical staff and the public might also be in danger of inadvertent or unnecessary radiation exposure. In extreme cases, this could lead to a serious accident,” said Dr. Al Naomi.